May 17 is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). It’s an opportunity to reflect on the discrimination and persecution that TBLGIAPQQ2S people (trans, bisexual, lesbian, gay, intersex, asexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, two spirited) face and recommit to creating an inclusive society for all.
May 17 was chosen because it marked the day in 1990 when the World Health Organization (WHO) removed homosexuality from its list of International Classification of Diseases. Before this date, it was listed as a mental illness and practices such as ‘aversion therapy’ were used to ‘cure’ homosexuality.
Today, IDAHOT is celebrated in more than 130 countries around the world, including 37 where same-sex relationships are illegal. In these countries, homosexuality and transgender identity are criminalized and TBLGIAPQQ2S people continue to be violently persecuted because of it.
“Around the world, members of sexual and gender minorities and intersex people face stigma, discrimination and persecutions and there is no place they can look to for full acceptance and protection,” said OPSEU/SEFPO President, Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “On top of that, this horrible pandemic has made it so much harder for them to get the support they need.”
Despite extremely hostile environments, human rights defenders manage to show resilience and power by fighting for their rights and using their visibility for change. The many limitations brought by the pandemic will not stop communities around the world from celebrating IDAHOT in any way they safely can.
“The best takeaway from IDAHOT is that the resilience, creativity and commitment of TBLGIAPQQ2S communities can show the world a different way to create societies rather than competition and greed”, said Morgen Veres, Co-Chair of OPSEU/SEFPO’s Rainbow Alliance arc-en-ciel. “Instead of condemning them and creating moral panics, leaders around the world would be smarter to get inspired by how sexual and gender minorities are facing up to the huge challenges they face, which the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated.”
Raising our voices against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia on May 17 is a chance to reaffirm our commitment to respect human dignity and to champion human rights.
“We must act for positive and inclusive futures for all to ensure that no one is left behind,” said OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida. “Today, we pay tribute to the richness of human diversity, and the right of every person to be proud of who they are, to define their own identity and to love the person of their choice.”
It is the everyday acts, the seemingly small things that can make a big difference in creating a truly inclusive province, workplace and community.
Let’s celebrate the power of love! Share your IDAHOT story using the hashtag #IDAHOT2021.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer